It was a long week end. The monsoon had arrived over the Punjab. The weather was atrocious. It had been raining incessantly for most of the past seven days. Flying had stopped. Most of us were in a holiday mood. But alas I was the Duty Officer for the week. Most of the telephone lines were down because of the heavy rain. I was therefore not even comfortable staying home and consuming tea/pakoda, some thing that my dear wife Leena was good at supplying. By about ten in the morning, I went to the Station HQ and settled in. I was the senior flight commander of 23 Squadron (the Panthers) and I was then preparing for my staff college entrance examination. Such a morning was ideal for immersing oneself in books and magazines, and I was ready to do just that. Read the rest of this entry
I had joined the Panthers in November 1963 as a Flight Commander and had needed just twenty eight days to be declared operational on type. Therefore, my story today must have been set on a cold Sunday morning early in December 1963 . I do not have my logbook handy at this moment so I cannot quote the exact date. Tradition demanded that I get rostered for a holiday stint at the ORP (Operational Readiness Platform) as soon I get declared operational on type. I claimed no exception for myself; I found myself on the ORP on that Sunday. By chance, the other pilot on duty was the other new flight commander, Reggie Upot. We were no strangers to each other. He was my instructor when I was a pupil in the Flying Instructors’ school, and he was my CO when he was commanding the FIS and I was his Chief Ground Instructor. He was now my senior colleague.
The Air Force – like any other vibrant organization – is filled with people of various types. There are some who are predictable; you can always guess what they are going to say or do or not do. There are some who are hard to remember when they move away from your active contact. There are those who will always irritate you or drive you to desperation. And then there are those who you will never ever forget even if you have met them but once. Chiefie Irani was one of the last variety. Read the rest of this entry
My time with the Battle Axes came to an end rather abruptly. In 1963, the Air Force started expanding rather quickly. The Flying academies were churning out pilots at a furious rate. The Hunter and the Mystere squadrons were overflowing with pilots. The Toofani and the Vampire units had become mere transit stations. The lone Marut Squadron was having a lot of teething trouble.